Via Captain Ranty (to whom a big tip of the crash-hat), I got to this summary of the legal basis of the 2011 Census, and what should be done about it. I do urge you to go and have a read of it (too much to post here). And I have come to a decision.
Despite the shaky legal basis of the Census Act 1920, and despite the fact that:
- after the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, section 39, the absolute confidentiality of personal information is no longer guaranteed (thank you, Labour)
- census data will be classified as 'restricted', not 'confidential'
- forms will be processed by 1300 temporary workers, about whom the Government cannot give assurances regarding vetting or security, either before, during or after the census is completed
- data handling has been sub-contracted to an American company, Lockheed-Martin, who are subject to the US Patriot Act, which allows the US Government to have access to any data in their possession
- the UK Government and civil service have an appalling record of losing personal data on laptops and memory sticks, such as the 2007 loss of discs containing the personal details of 25 million Child Benefit claimants by HMRC
- our personal data will be available to 'approved' people, such as the police, intelligence agencies, immigration authorities, foreign governments, the private sector and approved academic researchers, which makes any claim to confidentiality 'for 100 years' highly questionable; none of those august bodies have ever had leaks of information, have they? The statement that "Census records are sealed for a hundred years" is a complete joke.
- the EU's Census Regulation is now law in the UK, and requires that personal information gathered in the UK is passed to Eurostat, an organisation with a history of corruption and fraud
- the Census is required so that "local services are properly planned", and of course the evidence of the success of the 2001 Census in providing that is all around us
- the questions on ethnic origin are far more detailed than in the previous Census, and may well be used to target resources at minority populations more than at present; the Census homepage says it is so that "the needs of all communities are identified", which confirms that the purpose of the question is allocation of resources along ethnic lines, which to my mind is divisive rather than inclusive
- the Census forms are being provided in more than 50 languages, and the cost of this is borne by me, the taxpayer, not the people involved, who might be expected to learn the language of their adopted country as a condition of living there
- the Census is an example of the people being answerable to the state, not the state answering to the people, which is fundamentally wrong
- it is an arbitrary intrusion in breach of my right to privacy, which is enshrined in the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- the 2011 Census was set in motion by the outgoing Labour government, and is only being carried through on the grounds that too much money had already been spent on it; the incoming Government should have simply scrapped it
- it will be the last Census of its kind, as the Government says that in future alternative methods of data gathering will be used; why not use those methods now?
I just hope, after all that effort, that it gets there. The Royal Mail lose millions of items each year, and I am sure that handling tens of millions of census envelopes won't make their job any easier. I will have proof of posting, or course.